The project aims to address the complex challenges around inefficient energy use, lack of energy security and lack of social cohesion, all together as a system in the Trent Basin area.
The Meadows Ozone Energy Services (MOZES), is an energy service company set up and run by the community. It comprises members from several different backgrounds such as: the industrial sector, which offers its technological expertise as well as access to funds; researchers, who bring the cutting edge scientific knowledge; the local authority, who provides the expertise on the regulatory frameworks; and community-based organisations, which support local participation as well as dissemination of information.
In order to understand which aspects of energy impact on community resilience the project analyses former case studies from the Meadows area. It then aims to integrate this knowledge into the design process of a new community located in the Trent Basin area.
MOZES as a community set up company has brought together several real-life experiences from several sectors. This has helped in providing suitable solutions for the challenges and the difficulties faced by the project. Due to the involvement of the main stakeholders in both projects, MOZES played a key role in the transfer of knowledge and lessons learned to the Trent Basin projects. This has primarily occurred via key people sharing their experiences. Furthermore,"Localise Energy" was used as a learning tool to implement the most appropriate and suitable strategies in the establishment of the new community in Trent Basin development project. This required an extensive knowledge of the connections needed to mitigate challenges and obstacles.
The main obstacles of the pilot were the result of poor government policies and measures, which led to a restricted access to funds; and an absence of clear regulations on communal energy and energy conservation, which led to a lack of trust from community members. These obstacles affected the progress of the project activities and forced to change some of the strategies during critical stages. For example, when an unforeseen change in the government state aid regulations took place, MOZES opted to look at community storage as an alternative to feeding in tariffs (FITS).
The pilot was realised through the cooperation of several entities, which provided a broad range of expertise and experiences. For instance, MOZES provided the space for experimentation and innovation in the field of sustainable energy; the University of Nottingham (UoN) provided the expertise on energy efficiency, smart grids, demand side management, participatory planning, theory of architecture and urbanism, and sustainable and resilient cities; Nottingham City Council (NCC), the non-metropolitan district council for the unitary authority of Nottingham, provided expertise on planning and regulatory frameworks which are essential to comply with governmental regulation; Igloo Blueprint, described by the United Nations as the world's first responsible real estate fund, provided the practical expertise in sustainable regeneration and development. In addition, many other stakeholders were involved in delivering the community energy scheme both in the Meadows as well as in the Trent Basin area. These included institutions specialised in the setup of energy service companies, energy technology and data analysis experts, software and online platform developers and renewable energy and energy storage providers.
Involving Alan Simpson, the former member of parliament (MP) and climate change adviser to the Welsh Assembly, has been key instrumental in providing information on community energy issues. His knowledge about UK and European community energy policies was an advantage for the involved stakeholders. Simpson provided information such as, how to approach the right for local supply, how to determine the potential role of local authorities, and how to counter poor government energy policy. This will help stakeholders in the Trent Basin project to mitigate major obstacles, such as the poor access to funds.
As the project is still ongoing, short-term results are not yet achieved.
The pilot addresses fuel poverty and energy security challenges by empowering the community to manage their own resources. To this end, it examines how community energy schemes can contribute to decreasing carbon emissions as well as increase the resilience of energy systems by encouraging local energy generation and use.
This is associated with several long-term benefits for the community, for instance, the increase of community resilience in regard to changes in energy provision in both the infrastructural and financial sector; the improvement of energy grid efficiency and the provision of a future-proof community infrastructure; the decrease in energy poverty and increase in energy security by providing cheaper energy through grid forecasting. Furthermore, the pilot will enable communities to use all generated community energy to minimise external energy purchase and lower carbon emissions. Therefore, the community energy grid will be robust and attractive to energy suppliers.
All in all, the project not only will produce benefits on the energy level but also will build on the social community capital through the formation of new a neighbourhood "hubs/nodes/networks" based on a bottom-up approach. In the end, this will significantly contribute to change the community energy consumption behaviour.
"A constructive dialogue approach between the stakeholders supported the overall planning and the implementation process, which was key for a successful dialogue. It is advisable to use the same approach in order to gain more benefits, such as targeting the specific needs of the community by fostering the participation of more members. In addition, applying the constructive dialogue approach will harness knowledge from Academia and practical expertise from Industry. This will strengthen the continuous learning process of all stakeholders as well as fulfill the required goals."
Lucelia Rodrigues, UoN